Ask the Cardiologist for Heart Month: Are heart attacks diseases of the elderly?

Q: Are heart attacks diseases of the elderly, or is it possible to suffer one in your 30s and 40s?

A: While it’s true that the strongest risk factor for heart disease is age, the risks are not limited to the elderly only. Risk of premature heart disease is elevated in people who have a first degree relative with cardiovascular problems (heart attack or stroke) with the first symptoms at the age of less than 50-55 in males and less than 60-65 in females.

On New Years Eve of 2009 I was on call, and I spent the night treating two patients with heart attacks. The first one was a woman in her late 30s, and as we finished treating her just before midnight, in came another patient, a male, in his early 30s. the bottom line: premature heart disease is becoming more common as our society becomes more obese and more young people smoke. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and all of these diseases are risk factors associated with a higher chance of cardiovascular disease.

So, yes, it is possible to suffer from heart disease in your 30s and 40s, but in most cases it’s also preventable. So the fear of premature heart disease should be replaced with a healthy lifestyle.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, post it in the comments section below, visit the Sherman Health Facebook page, or email with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.”

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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